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Understanding Science and Scientific Methods:
An Overview for Lawyers

SUMMARY -- 12 September 2005

Class on 29 August 2005 Covered Topics 1 and 2.a. on the Syllabus

  1. Overview -- The Collision of Science and the Law --

    1. Differences between Science and the Law

    2. Epistemological questions: (Epistemology -- Part of Philosophy that deals with the origin, nature, and limits of knowledge)

      1. What is scientific knowledge?

      2. How do you distinguish science from non-science? (Scientific Validity)

      3. When is scientific knowledge reliable?

      4. Should scientific knowledge have a special status?

  2. Dioxin and Agent Orange

    1. Basic Science of Dioxin --

      1. A man-made family of chlorinated chemicals

      2. They are fat-soluble

      3. Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin -- TCDD -- the most toxic and famous has a biological half-life in humans ³ 7 years.

      4. Shown to be a very Potent Carcinogen and Teratogen in animal tests.

      5. TCDD works by latching onto the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR).

      6. Dose-Response Function not known with certainty

      7. Chloracne and an increased risk of cancer are the best documented toxic effects.

      8. Yushchenko -- 100,000 picograms TCDD per gram of blood fat. RECORD -- 144,000 pg TCDD/g blood fat

    2. The Use of Agent Orange in Vietnam